Top 10 Picks for a Fantasy Social Media Draft

Opinion: Umbel put together our fantasy lineup of socially engaged pro teams

What if you held a fantasy draft to choose professional sports teams by their social prowess?

The trees are changing colors, the air’s getting a little crisper, and it’s football season—not to mention that soon we’ll have new National Basketball Association and National Hockey League seasons, Major League Soccer playoffs and more.

In honor of the season, Umbel put together our fantasy lineup of socially engaged pro teams.

How did we come up with the rankings?

First, we picked some top leagues and two teams from each (so more socially engaged leagues like La Liga and the NBA wouldn’t dominate). Then, we jumped into the Umbel platform to look at an anonymous subset of followers of those teams. From there, we looked at insights among other pages those followers collectively liked on Facebook:

  • Their second-most-liked teams
  • Their most-liked player (social MVPs)
  • Their second-highest like (the first being the team)

What did we find? Fans love players almost as much as they love their teams, even if that player isn’t on the team anymore. Fans also like rival pages (keep your enemies close) and other local teams. Also, New York Yankees fans really like Eminem. Check out the list below:

International soccer

Real Madrid C.F.

We kick off our picks with Real Madrid from La Liga, which, along with FC Barcelona, far eclipses the U.S. pro teams. In fact, if we didn’t limit ourselves to two teams per league, we’d end up with a list mostly comprising of international soccer teams. Real Madrid’s social fans could fill their stadium 2,261 times over—with soccer’s wide international reach, that’s not to say they could all actually make it to a game, but that’s a massive opportunity for engaging those fans and selling merchandise around the globe.

For overlapping social affinities, we see a common theme across the list in that fans of the team also have a massive affinity for its star player, Ronaldo. In terms of second-most-liked teams, across the list, we either see other local teams or rivals in the same sport. With any matchup between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona called El Clásico, these two definitively fall into the rival camp.

FC Barcelona

  • UEFA club ranking, 2016-17: No. 6
  • MVP and top like: Leo Messi
  • Second-favorite team: Manchester United
  • Stadium size: 99,354 (social fans could fill the stadium 1,801 times)
  • Total followers: 178.9 million

FC Barcelona isn’t all too different from La Liga neighbor Real Madrid in terms of social media: around 180 million total followers, passionate about their top player and their next favorite team. You might expect to see Real Madrid as the second-most-liked team for Real Madrid, but the Premier League’s Manchester United beat them out. Manchester and Barcelona went head-to-head in a preseason friendly earlier this summer in the U.S.


Chicago Bulls

While the top NBA team doesn’t approach the social fan base of international soccer teams, the Bulls lead the pack for U.S. pro teams. Their second-favorite team is the Bears, the first local co-favorite on our list, and their top like is a former Bulls player, Rose (now with the Cleveland Cavaliers).

Miami Heat

  • ESPN 2017 Power Ranking: No. 13
  • MVP: Chris Bosh
  • Top like: LeBron James
  • Second-favorite team: Bulls
  • Arena size: 18,119 (social fans could fill the arena 1,280 times)
  • Total followers: 23.2 million

The Heat’s social fan base isn’t too far off from the Bulls: close to 25 million fans, and their top like, James, is another former player who’s still far ahead of former “big three” teammate Bosh. Like Real Madrid, Heat fans’ second-most-liked team is the Eastern Conference rival Bulls.

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